The hiring of three new researchers in a matter of months has doubled the size of the basic and translational research division within the Department of Ophthalmology at Indiana University School of Medicine.
In 2019, the department welcomed Padmanabhan Pattabiraman, PhD, and Arupratan Das, PhD, as faculty researchers. Recently, department chair David Wallace, MD, announced Tasneem Sharma, PhD, has accepted an offer and will soon move to Indianapolis.
The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute in Indianapolis houses three floors of laboratories where groundbreaking research is conducted by IU School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology faculty.
The department is a leader among public universities in ophthalmic research, with a portfolio that focuses on the exploration and treatment of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and pediatric eye diseases.
The addition of these three researchers increases the number of active basic and translational research laboratories from three to six. These new labs join three already working toward novel and innovative discoveries in vision research, led by: Tim Corson, PhD; Ashay Bhatwadekar, PhD, RPh; and Weiming Mao, PhD.
Sharma is currently a scientist at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center. Her research focuses on glaucoma, stem cell-derived retinal ganglion cells as models for neuroregeneration and translaminar pressure ex vivo modeling.
She’ll officially join the department faculty in the summer.
Das is passionate about science and understanding diseases at a single cell level.
He began his education in India, graduating from Calcutta University with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry before coming to America to pursue his doctorate and begin his research. He joined the IU School of Medicine ophthalmology department after working as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.
Das’s work focuses on understanding neurodegeneration mechanisms using human stem cell-derived neurons in the area of optic neuropathies, particularly glaucoma. This work can be applied to other neuropathies as well, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s disease.
His current project focuses on how retinal ganglion cells and mitochondria are associated with neuropathies at the single-cell level.
Although Das’s lab is just starting out, he’s eager to see it grow, become multidisciplinary and begin collaborating with other areas of science.
Like Das, Pattabiraman also studied biochemistry.
He completed his doctorate in neuroscience at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy followed by post-doctoral training at Duke University. He previously held a position at Case Western University.
Pattabiraman’s research focuses on glaucoma, an age-related blinding disease.
A love of physics and an inspiring teacher spurred his interest in science when he was a teenager, and a fondness for cameras and photography drove him to study ophthalmology.
During his undergraduate and master’s studies, he became fascinated with understanding how visual information is processed. While working toward his PhD, he learned more from a mentor about glaucoma and that it’s a leading cause of blindness.
Finding a cure for the disease and alleviating pain for millions of people around the world is the inspiration driving his work, he said.